By: Ali Elizabeth Turner
In 2006, Lifeway Research, which is located in Nashville started with the purpose of identifying needs and trends in and out of the American church. It has grown to be highly respected, and provides insights that can help both ministry leaders and individual believers. Since that time, it has compiled data and researched findings, some of which are rather striking. On Wednesday, I was exposed to the results of one of their studies which was conducted amongst 80,000 respondents, and it had to do with what happens to believers when they “engage” with God’s Word. I was “drawn up short and quick” by what I learned, and my prayer is that you will be as well.
The study first looked at what happens in the lives of people when they have some kind of interaction with Scripture from one day a week to three days a week. This can be reading a devotional, for example. What was found was that if a person interacts with the Word of God, let’s say, on a Sunday morning only after hearing the preacher say, “Open your Bibles to….” there is no “sign of life.” Nothing changes. If it is 2-3 days of perhaps reading a devotional as opposed to camping out in a seminary library and surrounding yourself with classic theological research works such as Young’s, Strong’s, Edersheim’s, ISBE, Rotherham’s, Vine’s and Matthew Henry, to name a few, there was a slight pulse-beat of engagement and resulting effect on the life of the believer. I am not at all implying that living in the seminary stacks is what does the job, either. Way too often people get into their heads and out of their hearts, and it is possible to have an intellectual relationship with the Bible and not an active one. The result can still be a “failure to thrive.”
But here is where it gets wild. On day four, there is the spiritual equivalent to having paddles placed on one’s chest, the medical staff yelling, “Clear!” and being “shocked” back to life. Below is what the researchers found happened in the lives of people who made a point of eating their “Daily Bread” at least four days a week:
- Feeling lonely drops 30%
- Anger issues drop 32%
- Bitterness in relationships drops 40%
- Alcoholism drops 57%
- Sex outside of marriage drops 68%
- Feeling spiritually stagnant drops 60%
- Viewing pornography drops 61%
- Sharing your faith jumps 200%
- Discipling others jumps 230%
Sharing your faith and discipling others jumps to over 200% just by hitting four days a week? Imagine what could happen if it became seven days a week! What would the lives of individual believers look like? Even more importantly, how would that affect the Body of Christ nationally? Recently, I realized that I had over time slipped into the “3-day group,” and that revelation bothered me greatly. I find it interesting that it was a little more than 24 hours later that the above statistics were presented, interestingly, in a talk that actually was about inflation, but had been delivered by a Christian business man by the name of Curt Beavers who has been one of my mentors for two decades. And I will happily take that kind of discomfort any day if it makes me a better disciple. Care to join me?